Aldi’s distant cousin Trader Joe’s has a wide variety of frozen foods, including a fair number of products with more international flavor. The upscale grocer keeps a stock of Mexican-style items, too, from salsa to quesadillas.
Trader Joe’s Mini Beef Tacos, found in the grocer’s frozen section, are right up that alley.
Trader Joe’s Mini Beef Tacos cost us $4.29 for a box. There are 24 mini tacos in the box, or about 18 cents a taco. They come frozen and the box advises users to keep them frozen until it’s time to cook them.
There are three options for cooking on the box. The first is in a conventional oven. To do so, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, bake on a center rack baking sheet for 6-8 minutes or until crispy, and then let the tacos stand for 1 minute before serving.
The second is pan frying. To do this, preheat 1/4 of an inch of oil to 350 degrees on a medium skillet, then add mini tacos and cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden. You then remove the tacos from the skillet and place on a paper towel, letting them stand for 2 minutes before serving.
The third method is the microwave. To use this method, wrap 4 tacos in a single paper towel and place on a microwave safe dish, cooking on high for 1 minute or until hot, then let the tacos stand 1 minute before serving.
While the microwave method is the shortest, the baking method isn’t terribly long, so that’s the method we used.
We noticed a couple of things while eating them. One, the corn tortillas have a decent crisp to them when baked, although they’re not as crispy as if you bought or made them fresh. Still, they’re crispy enough that they tend to hold their shape, so if you want to add things like cheese or tomatoes, you’ll have to pry them open carefully.
Two, the filling has a largely ground-up consistency, almost like beans with some shreds of beef. It is somewhere between mild and medium: enough to slightly clear your sinuses, but not enough to burn badly. It’s okay by itself but probably benefits from a little garnishing if you can pry the aforementioned tortilla shell open properly, or my wife dipped her tacos in salsa for some easy extra flavor.
Nutritionally, these are pretty high in fat and sodium, and not exactly low in calories. That’s not uncommon for a processed food, but given how relatively small these tacos are, the bad stuff can pile up pretty quickly. A single serving (4 mini tacos) would not be nearly enough for me for a full meal, so if you decide to eat more tacos than that, you’re going to be taking in a lot of sodium and fat.
Trader Joe’s Mini Beef Tacos are a decent, if not terribly inspired, quick-heat food. They taste okay, but they’re small and not as filling as I might have hoped. And at 18 cents a bite, they’re not the most economical food out there. Still, they’re easy to prepare and they aren’t a bad option if you need a quick-to-eat food. Just try to use the oven if possible.